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Horizon Europe for tech startups

In today’s world, innovation and development are indispensable elements to make progress and shape tomorrow’s world. Consequently, Europe is committed to improve the continent’s growth and citizens’ quality of life through its more ambitious programme: Horizon Europe.

What is Horizon Europe?

In 2020, the EU launched Horizon Europe, a core funding programme designed to foster research and innovation that will run until 2027. Its objectives are threefold: tackling climate change, contributing to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and promoting the EU’s competitiveness and growth. Its budget raises to €95.5 billion and it intends to support and disperse breakthrough knowledge and disruptive technologies, apart from boosting economic growth and industrial competitiveness. And to achieve these goals, Horizon Europe is based on three pillars: excellent science, global challenges & industrial competitiveness, and Innovative Europe.

Pillars of Horizon Europe

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Excellent Science supports researchers through fellowships, exchanges, and funding the projects that are conducted by researchers themselves. It operates within the European Research Council, Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Actions, and Research Infrastructures.

Global Challenges & Industrial Competitiveness enhances research related to current challenges such as health, climate change, clean energy, etc. It is expected that this pillar will improve the industrial leadership. 

And following this line of becoming a leader in innovation, Horizon Europe has added a third and last pillar: Innovative Europe.  This pillar is, in turn, divided into three branches: the European Innovation Ecosystems, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and the European Innovation Council (EIC). This last branch offers two core funding opportunities for startups: the EIC Accelerator and the EIC Pathfinder. 

EIC Accelerator

The EIC Accelerator is the main instrument promoted by the European Commission whose aim is to boost tech startups that belong to Horizon Europe associated countries or to the European Union. Its focus is on high-risk high-impact projects, and it provides grants, convertible loans and equity investments with a budget worth €10.1 billion. Nonetheless, its process is highly selective, for the success rates range from 2-6 % across Europe.

EIC Pathfinder

The EIC Pathfinder is a program from the EIC that focuses on R&D. With a budget of €300M, it seeks to support new ideas for new technologies, so its focus is on high-risk / high gain and cutting-edge science collaborations that develop technological breakthroughs.  

To help researchers and founders, the EIC Pathfinder offers grants of up to €4M to promote the early-stage development of new technologies.

European partnerships

European partnerships allow the European Commission and private and/or public partners to tackle Europe’s challenges through research and innovation initiatives. These partnerships help to achieve the EU’s political priorities and prevent duplicating investments. In addition, they reduce the fragmentation of research and innovation across the EU.

Horizon Europe establishes three types of partnerships: Co-Programmed European Partnerships, Co-funded European Partnerships using a programme co-fund action, and Institutionalized European Partnerships. However, collaborative calls are in general too difficult, unless the startup partners with a University or with a bigger company.

Benefits of Horizon Europe

Innovation and companies are words that go hand in hand, which means that every company needs to invest in innovation to make progress and prosper. Horizon Europe offers European companies the opportunity to foster research and development and innovation, helping them evolve, upgrade themselves and become more competitive.

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